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NBA all-star weekend provides some hope for the future

Tommy Schilder, Reporter

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Every year the NBA puts on its all-star weekend to showcase the skills and talents of the league’s best players. The weekend consists of the celebrity game and rising stars game on Friday, a skills challenge, three-point contest, and slam dunk contest on Saturday, and ends with the all-star game on Sunday.

Despite criticisms in recent years that the all-star weekend has been lacking in excitement and effort by players, this year’s events, particularly the all-star game, gave many viewers hope that they can count on a more thrilling experience in the coming years.

Celebrity Game

The celebrity game provides fans an opportunity to watch their favorite people in TV, film, sports, and other entertainment show off their basketball skills.

Team Clippers beat Team Lakers, 75-66. Modern hip-hop star and Migos member Quavo took home the MVP award with a game-high 19 point performance. Olympic sprinter Andre DeGrasse also showed out for Team Clippers with a seventeen point performance. NBA 2k host Rachel Demita led Team Lakers, scoring 17 points.

Rising Stars Game

The rising stars game features the league’s best young players. The two teams represented rising stars in the NBA from the USA, and from other countries, who played on the World team.

Team World beat Team USA, 155-124. Two rising stars from the Sacramento Kings, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield, combined for 55 points to propel Team World to a victory. Bogdonovic scored 26 points off the bench and had six assists to win MVP of the game, and Hield scored 29 points. Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 35 points for Team USA.

Despite the lack of defense in this game, both teams were still able to make it entertaining. Fans were happy to see the last few minutes of the game end with some jaw-dropping dunks from Donovan Mitchell (USA), John Collins (USA), and Jaylen Brown (USA).

Skills Challenge

This was the third year that the skills challenge was divided into two brackets, one for both guards and bigs (forwards/centers). Players face off in a single-elimination format until a champion from each bracket emerges. These champions then face off for the championship of the challenge.

The skills challenge is the same in each round. Players must dribble and weave through a series of posts, then make a pass through a hoop. Then, they must dribble to the other end of the floor to make a layup. Finally, they must come back on the other end and make a three point shot. The first player to successfully finish all of these first wins the match up.

This year’s winner was Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who defeated Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen. Dinwiddie beat Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets in the guard bracket final, while Markkanen ousted Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers in the big man bracket final.

Three-point Contest

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker won the three-point contest with a historic performance, scoring a record-breaking 28 points in the final round. Booker outperformed former champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Clippers forward Tobias Harris. Although the defending champion Eric Gordon failed to escape the first round, Booker’s sensational performance was more than enough to make up for this disappointment.

Slam Dunk Contest

The four dunk contestants this year were Dennis Smith Jr. (Mavericks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Larry Nance Jr. (Cavaliers), and Victor Oladipo (Pacers).

Although Smith didn’t make the final round, he didn’t leave without displaying his incredible dunking prowess. His 360 between-the-legs dunk was one of the more noteworthy dunks of the evening. Oladipo also failed to escape the first round. However, the crowd appreciated his “Black Panther” double clutch dunk.

The final round pitted Nance against rookie Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell’s first dunk in the final round earned a perfect score of 50, and he sealed a victory with a reverse 360 dunk, paying tribute to dunk legend Vince Carter.

All-Star Game

This year’s all-star game was arguably the most anticipated one in recent years, primarily because of the new team setup. This was the first year that the league abandoned its East vs. West conference format. Instead, two captains (who received the most all-star votes) went back and forth picking whichever player they desired from the all-star pool. The draft made for a unique set of teams, both of which had stars that had never played together on the same team before. Players were given an incentive to win the game, as those from the winning team would get to take home one hundred thousand dollars each.

The game came down to the very end, which is a rarity given the outcomes of recent years. Team LeBron came away with the victory, 148-145. LeBron James took home the MVP award with 29 points.

The vast majority of fans can agree that this year’s game was a pleasant surprise. It was a complete game that featured legitimate defense, and both sides took the game seriously. The new format and incentive to win definitely had a positive, and more importantly, necessary effect on both the level of play and entertainment of the all-star game. Fans may finally be able to abandon the expectation that they will be left disappointed on all-star weekend.

 

 

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